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Top 10 Digital Photography Tips & Tricks

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by Viv (subscribe)
Busy Mum who enjoys discovering new places with a special interest in finding fun and appropriate experiences for a child with Autism.
Published June 12th 2012
Here's a few tricks of the trade for taking a good shot with a digital camera. Knowing your camera's limitations and capabilities is integral. The following tips will help your images come alive.

Cunningham Pier
Add life to your photography

1. Take many shots of your subject.
Now that there's no longer a cost issue as there was with film, don't hold back. You can always delete any shots that are not up to scratch.

2. In-camera cropping.
Once you have framed your shot, take a step forward and have another look. A common mistake made by amateur photographers is not keeping the shot tight.

In-camera Cropping
Keep your shot tight

3. Use the "Rule of Thirds".
When looking through the viewfinder of some cameras, a grid divided vertically and horizontally into thirds can be seen. This grid uses the Rule of Thirds. If your camera does not have this grid, imagine a grid and using this rule, the composition of a shot can be improved providing a more balanced shot. Placing elements of a shot on the intersections of the grid creates interest, a focal point and tends to make an image more natural. Like any rule, it can be broken.

Rule of Thirds
Use the rule of thirds to balance your shot.

4. Subject brightness range. (SBR)
Subject brightness range is the difference between the brightest and the darkest tone in a shot and is measured in f-stops. This is important to keep in mind when using a digital camera. If this difference is too high, definition will be lost in the shadows and the highlights. This is why often photographs shot on an overcast day often look better than if there was full sun.

5. Focal point.
Think about how someone will view the image. Do you want the viewer to look at one place or scan the entire image?
The eye can be drawn to different parts of an image by imagining rays drawn to a specific point. This point often co-insides with a grid point from the rule of thirds.
Ducks on the Murray River
Find a focal point

6. Focus/Depth of field.
When looking at a scene, our eyes see everything as sharp, however a camera does not reproduce the scene in quite the same way.

The part of an image that's sharp is known as depth of field. The size of this area is determined by three factors, lens aperture, lens focal length and the distance the camera is from the subject.
Using these elements allows control over the depth of field in an image. Fashion and Macro (close-up) photography usually has a narrow depth of field and for a landscape scene, a wide depth of field.

To get everything in focus, try this trick, set up your image and focus one third up from the bottom of the image. It draws the whole image into focus.

Depth of Field
This image has a narrow depth of field

Garden at Yaralla
This image had a wide depth of field

7. Flash.
Flash should not be confined to night time use only. Flash can be used to great effect during the day and lifts the foreground. Using "fill" flash reduces the light difference (SBR) across the shot.

Murray River at Albury
No fill flash

Murray River
Using fill flash, the foreground stands out.

8. Tripod.
This can be anything. I keep some "Blu Tac" in my bag as you only need three sticks and some "Blu Tac" to make a disposable tripod. Be inventive, make use of what's around, a tripod can be a rock, pole, picnic table, the car, anything that's not moving.

9. Choose the best time of day.
The time of day can make a huge difference to the impact of a shot. A landscape or water shot may look better at dawn or dusk. The shadows on a building may look better mid-afternoon than noon. Sometimes it takes a few visits to achieve the best lighting for a subject.

Fitzroy Gardens
Choose the best time of day

10. Reflectors.
To push more light into a shot, reflectors can be used. Reflectors can be purchased from a photographic supplier or you can make your own. Glue some aluminium foil to a piece of A4 or A3 cardboard. For a diffused light, use polystyrene or a white card. It's amazing what a difference this can make without the aid of a flash. Using a gold foil will throw a yellow light and the silver will cast a white light.
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Your Comment
Toby is an Internet star now!
by edwin (score: 0|3) 3338 days ago
These are really good tips Viv!
I've been interested in photography for years, but still need to get reminders like this on how to get the best from my camera.
Well done!
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11307) 3335 days ago
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by Andrew White on 18/03/2012
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